Higher Education Quick Takes

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Friday, May 7, 2010 - 3:00am

The American Association of University Professors and the American Civil Liberties Union are asking the University of Virginia to reject demands from Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli for documents on the research of a global warming expert who once worked at the university. Many conservative groups believe that documents of climate change experts will confirm their skepticism about global warming. The AAUP/ACLU argument is not about global warming, but about the rights of professors to do controversial work.

Rachel Levinson, senior counsel with the AAUP, said in a press announcement: "The breadth of Attorney General Cuccinelli's request suggests that it is meant to intimidate faculty members and discourage them from pursuing politically controversial work; it's a shot across the bow to all public universities in Virginia. Cuccinelli's injection of politics into the academic arena is profoundly counter not only to the interests of scholars in climate science but to the interests of the state's flagship institution in academic excellence and dispassionate inquiry and to the public interest as a whole in vigorous debate."

A spokeswoman for the university said that it has requested and received an extension, until July, to comply with the request. She said that "the attorney general has broad authority to initiate an investigation such as this. And we are required by law to comply." She added that the Faculty Senate and the AAUP "are the ones able to initiate a public debate about state policy and whether the policy needs to be reviewed."

Friday, May 7, 2010 - 3:00am

Arne Duncan, the secretary of education, has announced that he is ordering a study on "restrictive" policies on the transfer of academic credit from colleges to one another. In a letter to the American Council of Trustees and Alumni, one of the groups that requested such a study, he said that the analysis should be completed within a year. With more students attending multiple institutions to earn a bachelor's degree, transfer rules have become increasingly controversial, with many community colleges charging that they are needlessly detailed and some for-profit institutions saying their students are discriminated against.

Friday, May 7, 2010 - 3:00am

Graduate students and postdoctoral researchers at the New Jersey Institute of Technology have formed a new union, affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers. Organizers plan to focus on working conditions and health care.

Thursday, May 6, 2010 - 3:00am

Average tenured faculty salaries at the University of Toronto ($157,566) are the highest in Canada, according to new data from Statistics Canada, Canwest News Service reported. Fourteen universities now have average salaries for tenured faculty members that exceed $100,000.

Thursday, May 6, 2010 - 3:00am

Drake College of Business, a for-profit college, has announced that it will stop recruiting students in homeless shelters, Bloomberg reported. The news service exposed the practice, noting that many of those recruited borrow money to enroll, but don't advance very far in their programs, leaving the college with additional revenue and the homeless with debt.

Thursday, May 6, 2010 - 3:00am

Colorado State University on Wednesday rescinded its gun ban, citing a recent ruling by a Colorado court that invalidated a similar ban at the University of Colorado, the Associated Press reported. While advocates of the ban said it would promote safety, critics said that the university was exceeding its authority in an area in which the state has strict limits on the ability of agencies to regulate the carrying of guns.

Thursday, May 6, 2010 - 3:00am

The University of California at Berkeley, citing "genuine confusion" over when authorities ordered some protests to disperse in the fall, has dropped charges against dozens of students involved, and said it is reviewing some of its judicial rules, The New York Times reported. Students in the protests, with significant faculty backing, have criticized the university for restricting their right to protest.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010 - 3:00am

About 20 students at the University of California at Berkeley started a hunger strike Monday, vowing not to eat until university officials take a strong stand against the new immigration law in Arizona that is viewed by many as encouraging ethnic profiling, The San Francisco Chronicle reported. The students are also demanding that disciplinary charges be dropped against those involved in an earlier protest, and that some janitors who lost their jobs be rehired.

Berkeley is among many campuses nationwide that have seen protests over the Arizona law and measures designed to punish those who live in the United States without legal authorization. At Texas A&M University, however, some students have been pushing the Student Senate to oppose the Texas policy of letting some undocumented students pay in-state tuition rates, The Bryan-College Station Eagle reported. After an intense debate in the Senate Tuesday -- with an unusually large audience at the meeting -- senators decided to have a committee review the proposal.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010 - 3:00am

The president of the University of Maine, Robert Kennedy, announced Tuesday that the university is accepting the controversial recommendations of a panel that identified ways for the Orono institution to save money and refocus on key areas. Among the changes: the elimination of the public administration department, the suspension of majors in German, Latin, theater and women's studies. and a range of other consolidations. The plan will preserve some instruction in some of the areas that will no longer have majors.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010 - 3:00am

The Chicago Tribune, which broke the story last year about the "clout" list that enabled the politically connected to have preferences in University of Illinois admissions, is now reporting on who was helped by Michael Madigan, the speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives. According to the Tribune, only 5 of the 28 applicants he helped in three recent years lived in Madigan's district, and many "would not have been admitted on their own merit." In one case, three relatives of a major donor to Madigan enrolled -- two of them after having first been wait-listed and one after being given the admissions office's lowest rating.

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